The Scottish Government’s strategy for the private rented sector, published in May 2013, restates the purpose of landlord registration as:
Providing a register of all private landlords for public inspection, with the added assurance that the local authority has conducted a fit and proper person test;
providing a regularly updated register that can be used to assist dialogue between local authorities and landlords, and to disseminate best practice information; and
ensuring that landlord registration enforcement action is targeted on tackling the worst landlords in the sector, whether that involves dealing with concentrations of such landlords in vulnerable urban communities, or challenging the practices of individual landlords in more rural or sparsely populated areas.
All private landlords must register with their local authority to ensure that they are a "fit and proper person" to let property. It is an offence to let any house without being registered. The maximum fine for operating as an unregistered landlord is £50,000.
Applications for registration should be made through the online registration system, where possible. Further information about registration is available on the Help pages of the registration website and in the guide below.
Use of Information
Some specified information is available to members of the public through the public search facility on the landlord registration website. On entering a property's address, a member of the public can view:
name of landlord;
name of agent (where applicable);
contact address for the property;
whether there is a repairing standard enforcement order against the property.
On entering a landlord's name and address, the system will display information on
the landlords registration status;
local authority where the landlord is registered;
whether there are any other properties linked to that registration.
Other information, such as the landlord's home address or a list of rented properties in an area, may be provided to enquirers by the local authority if it considers it appropriate. Such requests must be considered in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Information will not be released if doing so would breach data protection principles.
A local authority may use information it holds about landlords or agents to determine whether they are a fit and proper person to act as a landlord, or to act for a landlord. In addition, local authorities may share relevant information they hold about landlords with one another to help those authorities determine whether someone is a fit and proper person to act as a landlord, or to act for a landlord. They may also share and seek relevant information with the Police Service of Scotland and, if appropriate, other relevant authorities.
Information is shared in terms of the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 and/or the Data Protection Act 1998. Under the Data Protection Act 1998 information is shared for the purposes of preventing and detecting crime. These and other measures help protect communities and let legitimate business thrive whilst deterring those wishing to engage in criminality.
Serious Organised Crime
Serious organised crime groups use businesses both as a means of laundering proceeds of previous crimes, and to facilitate their continuing criminality. Certain business sectors, including the private rented sector, are particularly appealing due to their ability to serve these purposes, at the expense of vulnerable and law-abiding people. In addition, this practice impacts negatively on legitimate businesses and undermines their commercial competitiveness.
Help with Registration
The Scottish Government provides the on-line registration website for the 32 local authorities. Local authorities have operational responsibility for the implementation of landlord registration, and the normal contact for issues related to the operation of the website should be the local authority for the area in which a property is being registered.
Guidance for local authorities is available and the online system is available for them to receive applications and maintain their registers.
Renewing a Registration
When an application for registration is approved by a local authority it is valid for three years. If a landlord is still letting then they should apply to renew their registration prior to the expiry date being reached.
Landlords can apply to renew their registration online up to three months before their current registration expires on the landlord registration website. Local authorities will also issue reminders when registrations are due to expire.
Antisocial Behaviour Powers
Local authorities also have powers under Part 7 of Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 to take action against landlords who fail to manage their property so as to minimise antisocial behaviour from tenants. Information about antisocial behaviour orders or notices must be declared in an application. Local authorities must have regard to such information when they are considering whether a landlord is a fit and proper person to let property.